FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT LIVES
Advent is alive at Saint Mary's. With Christmas Day being a Monday, the season this year is as short as it can be. Next year, when Christmas Day is a Tuesday, Advent will be as long as it can be. I associate Advent with the snow I encountered during my first year in graduate school at the University of Chicago-and it brings the memory of walking on fresh snow there on my way to and from my first confession at the local parish. I think it was the first period when I attended the Episcopal Church regularly enough to appreciate the season.
To a new Episcopalian, Advent made a mighty impression. It was easy to lose oneself in the season's liturgical simplicity and, especially, its hymns, plainsong and metrical both. Powerful. Sunday flowers were gone-I don't recall rose vestments. A draft of the new Prayer Book lectionary, with its three-year cycle was in use, and sermons tended to be based on the Sunday Scriptures. One tires of snow quickly-it can be on the ground until the spring there. But when it's fresh in December, Christmas hangs in the air, in a sense. It's not a time to celebrate, but a time to prepare.
One of the great graces of my years as rector of Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana, was the congregation's encounter with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. We started the program with three- to six-year-olds. The adults who worked with the children were surprised that secular Christmas, including Santa Claus and presents, never came up among the children. It said something about how powerfully complete the environment of their room and the materials and presentations for them were.
Last Sunday at Benediction, I remembered that the short readings during adoration on the four Sundays of Advent are slightly longer versions of the only Old Testament Scriptures given to the youngest children in the Catechesis. There are four of them: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2); "A star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel" (Numbers 24:17); "You, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel" (Micah 5:2); and "Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman'u-el." (Isaiah 7:14). Note: in the Catechesis the version of Scripture used in worship is used with even the youngest children. (Three-year-olds like big words-and they like to repeat them over and over.)
Almost of all of us have Christmas obligations of one sort or another this month. Enjoy them, but save your best heart and your home, as you are able, for Advent. Clear your calendar to be at Mass on Sundays-including Sunday morning, December 24, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. If there are any sins troubling your heart, your parish priests are available for counsel and confession. I invite you to enjoy the quiet of Advent in your soul. Advent can be the beginning of not just the church's new year, but your own. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jeffrey, Brice, Mickie, Bill, Jon, Linda, Jerry, Preston, Barbara, Jean, Mike, Dick, Nicholas, Bobby, Eleanor, Wendell, Sherri, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Mitties, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the soul of John Jackson. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 10: 1878 William Henry Field; 1882 Mary Elizabeth Thompson; 1897 John Smith; 1915 Mary Elizabeth Geiss; 1919 Mary Alice Jeffrey; 1922 John Church Brasier; 1925 Matthew William Carswell; 2001 Helena Handy; 2003 Annie Ostrom Dows.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Nearly two months ago we kicked off our 2018 Stewardship Campaign, sending stewardship packets to the members and friends of the parish. The Campaign is doing well, but we still have a ways to go. Some statistics: as of Wednesday, December 6, we have received 90 pledges and $321,258.00 has been pledged. This is 76% of our pledge goal of $425,000.00. Nearly 67% of those who pledged for 2017 made pledges for 2018 during these first weeks of the Campaign. We are very eager to meet our stewardship goal this year. If you are able to make a pledge before year's end, it will allow the Budget Committee to make more realistic plans for the coming year.
To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, December 10, Second Sunday of Advent . . . Sunday, December 10, The Adult Forum has been cancelled due to illness. We will ask Dr. Risinger to return after Christmas when he's feeling better! Stay tuned for date and time . . . December 13, the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Andra Eggleston Dobyns, the daughter-in-law of the Reverend Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, gave birth to Florence Devoe Dobyns on December 7 in Nashville, Tennessee. Florence's father is Emery Dobyns, Rebecca's son. Mother, daughter, and father are doing well. Please keep Rebecca and her family in your prayers . . . Parishioner Suzanne Rochester reports that her husband, parishioner Abe Rochester, has continued to improve while recuperating at home. Though it is now difficult for Abe and Suzanne to travel to Saint Mary's from their home in the Bronx every week, they hope to be with us on Christmas Eve . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 198.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum on Sunday, December 10, has been cancelled due to illness. The class will be re-scheduled in the New Year . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on December 17, 24, or 31. The class will resume on January 7, when Father Jay Smith will begin a series on the English Reformation and the Oxford Movement's nineteenth-century response to Reformation thought and practice (January 7, 14, 28, and February 4 and 11). On Sunday, January 21, Sister Monica Clare will lead the Adult Forum in a discussion of the rise of Anglican religious orders . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on December 13 at 6:30 in Saint Benedict's Study. The class will then begin its Christmas break and will resume on January 10 . . . On January 10, 17, 24, and 31, Father Peter Powell will teach the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class. He plans to discuss certain challenging passages in the Psalms. The class normally meets on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. -Jay Smith
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Missa Ave Maris Stella of Tomás Luís de Victoria (c. 1548-1611). Victoria is considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Born in Avila, the seventh of eleven children, he began his musical education as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral, and began his classical education at San Gil, a Jesuit school for boys founded in 1554. By 1565, Victoria had entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, where he was later engaged to teach music and eventually named maestro di cappella. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594) who was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romano at that time. During his years in Rome Victoria held several positions as singer, organist and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. There are twenty authenticated Mass settings of Victoria in addition to two Requiems. The four-voice Missa Ave Maris Stella, dating from 1576, is one of Victoria's many parody Masses, systematically incorporating melodic material drawn from pre-existing sources. In this case, Victoria's theme is the Marian hymn Ave Maris Stella. Elements of the chant melody are used imitatively throughout the polyphonic texture as well as in long notes in the manner of a cantus firmus.
The Communion motet on Sunday was also composed by Victoria. Its text source is Zechariah 14:5, and its traditional liturgical usage is as the Communion for Friday in the third week of Advent. It is also an antiphon from the Little Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Victoria's setting is a two-section motet for five voices and was first published in Antwerp in the 1609 anthology Florilegium sacrarum cantionum. The text lux magna ("great light") in both sections of the motet is emphasized by the alignment of all voices on long notes and by the jubilant cascade of alleluias which follow.
The organ prelude on Sunday is based upon Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland ("Come now, Savior of the Gentiles"), as were both of last Sunday's voluntaries. The chorale (54 in The Hymnal 1982) is Martin Luther's sixteenth-century adaptation of the fourth-century Latin hymn Veni Redemptor gentium attributed to Ambrose of Milan (55 in The Hymnal 1982). The setting this morning is an extended Choralfantasia by Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697) in which each of the chorale's four melodic phrases (the last of which is identical to the first) is elaborately developed in four distinct sections to be played on two manuals and pedals. Bruhns was a highly regarded virtuoso of both keyboard and stringed instruments of the generation before J. S. Bach. The postlude on Sunday is also a work of Bruhns. His Praeludium in G minor, unlike three previously published multi-sectional Praeludien, consists of two balanced sections easily identifiable as Prelude and Fugue. -David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY. . . Donations and volunteers are needed for January 27, our next Drop-in Day, and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. As always, the number of those who are homeless who seek refuge in the church and who ask for assistance increases when the weather grows colder. In order to meet some of those requests, we are hoping to receive donations of the following items: blankets, razors, shaving cream; packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items will prove to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, January 5, 2018, 5:30 PM, Eve of the Epiphany, Stephen Rumpf, New York City . . . Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:30, The Presentation: Candlemas, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City . . . Monday, April 9, 2018, 5:30 PM, The Annunciation, Mr. Bálint Karosi, Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, New York City . . . Thursday, May 10, 5:30 PM Ascension Day, Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.
LOOKING AHEAD. . . Thursday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 & 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, December 24, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music for Congregation & Choir 4:30 PM, Sung Mass 5:00 PM; Music for Congregation & Choir 10:30 PM, Procession and Solemn Mass 11:00 PM . . . Monday, December 25, Christmas Day, Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM . . . Tuesday, December 26, Saint Stephen, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Wednesday, December 27, Saint John the Evangelist, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, December 28, The Holy Innocents, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Monday, January 1, Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sung Mass 11:00 AM . . . Friday, January 5, The Eve of the Epiphany, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM (the Right Reverend Mary Glasspool, principal celebrant and preacher).